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Photo Courtesy: VCU Athletics
Photo Courtesy: VCU Athletics

RICHMOND, Va. - - Belmont University men's basketball dropped a 78-51 decision to VCU Tuesday night.

The Bruins, playing a third consecutive game without the services of OVC leading scorer Craig Bradshaw (Ridgetop, Tenn.), got off to a positive start at the always electric Siegel Center.

A deep three-pointer from senior Spencer Turner (Bloomington, Ind.) and a layin from sophomore Evan Bradds (Jamestown, Ohio) got the Bruins within 7-5 at the first media timeout.

But from there, Belmont labored to find the range, as promising looks from Turner and sophomore Taylor Barnette (Lexington, Ky.) rimmed off.

Sophomore Nick Smith (Bentonville, Ark.) got the Bruins within 14-7 with 10:46 left in the half.

Belmont fought in the half court, and played strong defense and rebounded well for long stretches. The Bruins missed out on scoring opportunities from the free throw line, as three successive empty trips stung a bit.

After a three-pointer from Doug Brooks and a basket from Justin Tillman pushed VCU's lead to 34-15, Belmont closed the half on a 6-0 run.

Bradds would provide all six points to get Belmont within 34-21 at halftime.

The Bruins shot 33 percent (6-for-18) from the field in the opening 20 minutes - including 3-for-13 from three-point distance. Belmont limited the Rams to only four second-chance points in the first half.

Bradds scored inside to make the score 34-23 with 19:18 left - and he would add a wing three-pointer moments later - but the strong inside play of Mo Alie-Cox and the shooting of JeQuan Lewis sparked a VCU run.

A transition three-pointer from Lewis made the score 50-26 with 14:18 to go.

Belmont actually limited turnovers in the second half, but shots simply would not fall.

Freshmen Austin Luke (Rowlett, Texas) and Tyler Hadden (Cincinnati, Ohio) provided a lift in the second half.

All told, Belmont shot 37 percent (17-for-46) from the field, including 8-for-29 from three-point distance.

Bradds led Belmont with 15 points.

Tillman led VCU (7-3) with 16 points.

Belmont (7-4) returns to action Saturday, Dec. 20 at Fairfield. Tip-off is set for 12:30 p.m. CT.

The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network and 104.5 The Zone. In-game updates will be available on Twitter @BelmontMBB.

NOTES: Belmont and VCU entered 2014-15 as two of only six NCAA Division I programs with 26 or more victories each of the last four seasons, along with Duke, Florida, Syracuse, and Wichita State ... Holden Mobley had a career-high three steals ... VCU recorded its 55th consecutive sellout.